Doctors are among the most valued members of society. The public relies on them to solve medical issues day in and day out. They are indispensable during times of crisis. Yet even these fine professionals can succumb to addiction like regular people.
Doctors and addiction are two words that don’t seem to mix but studies suggest that they are even more prone to substance abuse and related mental health disorders compared to the rest of the population. Possible reasons include high stress and access to controlled substances.
Physician Health Programs
It is clearly in the best interest of the public and the affected doctors themselves that they get prompt and adequate support so that they can drop the destructive habit for good. Physician Health Programs or PHPs were developed exactly for this purpose. They were started in the 1970s to help doctors who were struggling with addiction but have gradually expanded to include incorporate other health professionals. Aside from substance abuse, PHPs now concern themselves with physical disabilities, disruptive behaviors, cognitive disorders, professional boundary issues, and psychiatric disorders.
States that have PHPs
Physician Health Programs used to be present all across the country but there has been a pushback against them due to moral ambiguities. Some sectors of society feel that errant doctors deserve punishment for their actions, not rehabilitation. This punitive sentiment gained traction in many states to the point that many of them have ended their support to the program.
Today only four states remain committed to the corrective approach to the situation. These are Wisconsin, Nebraska, Georgia and California. Those practicing outside of these states will have to settle for alternatives such as private rehabilitation centers and use their own resources to avail of treatments.
The Effectiveness of Rehabilitation
Doctors who undergo treatment have an excellent chance of returning to the profession. Roughly 75% to 85% of physicians are able to abstain for good and go back to work, some faster than others. In some cases, it may be helpful to consider a shift in specialty or an adjustment in work hours to prevent relapse.